With just over a week before minor leaguers get their September call-up, now is the time to have a list of the potential players that could make a fantasy impact. Last week, I broke down the ten hitters I’m anxiously awaiting to get the call. Breaking down a list of pitchers, my colleague Brad McKenney shared his favorite pitchers to get the potential call. This week, I want to take it one step further, and zero in on one hitter and pitcher that I will be paying special attention to as we anxiously await their arrival. Hopefully, both can make solid impacts, and help your fantasy team in the playoffs.
Willie Calhoun, Second Baseman/Outfield – Texas Rangers
I’ve been following Calhoun for the past few seasons. His power stuck out immensely, and I’ve been reluctant to find power at the second base position. The left-handed batter possesses great power, and he’s shown the ability to get on base consistency with a career minor league OBP of .348. What stands even more is ability to hit for power while not piling up a large amount of strikeouts. His career minor league K% is 13%. Very rarely do we see players with high home run totals that are able to limit the strikeouts.
There are critics that suggest we will see an uptick in strikeouts as Calhoun faces better pitching in the Major Leagues. This may be the case, but even then, Calhoun has enough talent to make the necessary adjustments just as the pitchers will do to him. Calhoun has spent the entire 2017 season in Triple-A. You may recall, only a few short weeks ago, Calhoun was part of the return Texas received when they sent Yu Darvish to the Los Angeles Dodgers. This season, Calhoun has slashed .295/.353/.574 with 28 home runs and 79 RBI. Through three minor league seasons, the 22 year-old has managed an average slashline of .283/.348/.518 to go along with 22 HR and 72 RBI. It’s very rare to find minor league players that put together averages like this. I’ll take a step further and suggest it’s harder to find Major League second basemen who put together averages similar to Calhoun’s.
When it comes to his defense, he’s not among the top defensive infielders in the minor leagues. Even then, the Rangers currently have Rougned Odor manning the position, and he doesn’t seem in danger of losing playing time anytime soon. While Calhoun won’t stick in the infield, he’s more than likely destined for an outfield spot. I’d suggest left field. The Dodgers started Calhoun’s transition from the infield, and during his short time in the Rangers organization he’s played all, but one game, in the outfield.
While the Rangers are 14.5 games behind in their division, they’re only 2.5 games behind a Wild Card spot. When rosters expand, I guarantee they could be looking for an extra bat to bring some power to the table. Assuming Calhoun gets the call, I’d expect him to get everyday at-bats, and should until the end of the season. What does this mean for fantasy baseball owners? If you’re looking for a player that could carry both second base, and outfield, eligibility Calhoun could be the perfect call-up. The power the left-handed hitting masher brings is something you will be hard pressed to find from other September roster additions. I’d plan ahead and if you can grab him in a dynasty/keeper league, then do so. I’d be shocked if he isn’t vying for a starting job in Spring Training. The most realistic scenario would be starting 2018 in AAA Round Rock until the Super II deadline passed. After, I’d project a .270-.280 average with 20+ HR and 80+ RBI per season.
Brent Honeywell, Starting Pitcher – Tampa Bay Rays
Naturally, I pair a power-hitting September call-up with a power-pitching September. Just as Calhoun has dominated Triple-A with his power, Honeywell has done the same from the mound. Honeywell is no longer a secret after being drafted in the second round of the 2014 first-year player’s draft. Honeywell started the 2017 season at AA Montgomery going 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA, 0.615 WHIP, and 20:4 K:BB. Following the dominant 13 Double-A innings he threw, he was immediately promoted to AAA Durham. Through 118 innings, Honeywell has compiled an 11-7 record to go along with a 3.66 ERA, 1.288 WHIP, and 1[47:28] K:BB.
The 2017 Futures All-Star Game MVP has a repertoire of pitches that aids in his success. He brings a mid-90s fastball that has solid movement, and sinking action, to keep hitters on their toes. He companies his fastball with a plus changeup, 12-to-6 curveball thrown for strikes, average cutter, and a screwball that wowed everyone during the 2017 MiLB All-Star game. Being able to mix, and change, pitches as he does has given him a tremendous advantage over hitters. What do we usually hear when successful starting pitchers are discussed? The ability to change speeds, and mix pitches. Honeywell has been able to do that early on, in his professional career, and the 22 year-old is on the face track to the Majors.
Honeywell’s 147 strikeouts is good enough first in the International league, and second overall in Triple-A just behind Wilmer Font’s (LAD) 170. Honeywell has been top-five in almost all scoring categories such as wins (11), WHIP (1.29) and K9 (11.2). With Tampa 11.5 games out in the AL East, and 4 games behind in the Wild Card hunt, Honeywell should get the call in September giving the Rays an immediate upgrade in the rotation.
What should we expect when Honeywell gets the call? There have been numerous pitchers to struggle upon their first call to the Majors. Last season, we saw Jose Berrios absolutely rocked. Fast-forward to 2017, and Berrios made the necessary adjustments to have a successful 2017 campaign. On the other hand, we’ve seen young arms have immediate success such as Clayton Kershaw, Madison Bumgarner, and Stephen Strasburg. While more starting arms have issues, I believe Honeywell will be on the few that has immediate success. What sets Honeywell apart is his ability to mix pitches, change speeds, and use the artillery of pitches he possesses. Honeywell has had success at every stop in the minors compiling minor league totals of: 30-18, 2.87 ERA, 1.075 WHIP, and 4[53:90] K:BB. In terms of his power arm, he’s averaged a near 10 K9 while averaging 113.25 strikeouts in 100 innings per season. Honeywell is a player I’ve seen added in numerous leagues through fantasy baseball. His transaction trend is starting to climb, and he could be the next dominant pitcher in baseball. Hopefully, he’s still available in your league and you can add him before his potential call in a little over a week.